Anti-Discrimination Laws in Hong Kong

1. Brief Description of Anti-Discrimination Laws

The four equal opportunities ordinances currently implemented in Hong Kong are:

  1. the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 480);
  2. the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 487);
  3. the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 527); and
  4. the Race Discrimination Ordinance (Cap 602).

2. Extent of Protection

Direct discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favorably than another person for reasons of sex, marital status or pregnancy, disability, family status and race. Indirect discrimination occurs when a condition or requirement, which is not justifiable, is applied to everyone but in practice adversely affects persons of a particular sex or marital status, race, or those who are pregnant or have health conditions.

Both direct and indirect discrimination are unlawful.

3. Protections Against Harassment

It is unlawful for a person to engage in any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to another person, or to engage in unwelcome conduct on the ground of the disability or race of the other person, where a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated that the other person would be offended, humiliated or intimidated. It is also unlawful for a person to engage in conduct of a sexual nature, or engage in conduct on the ground of the race of another person, which creates a hostile or intimidating environment for the other person.

4. Employer’s Obligation to Provide Reasonable Accommodations

An employer should provide reasonable accommodation to a job applicant or an employee with a disability, unless the job in question requires absence of disability as a genuine occupational qualification. An employer is not obliged to employ a person with a disability if the latter cannot perform the inherent requirements of the job. However, the employer should not draw such a conclusion unless he or she has duly considered reasonable accommodation.

5. Remedies

An employee feeling discriminated against can lodge a complaint with the Equal Opportunities Commission (“EOC”) or take his/her case to court and initiate civil proceedings under the law for damages.

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